Roman Catholics define purgatory as:
Purgatory is the state of those who die in God’s friendship, assured of their eternal salvation, but who still have need of purification to enter into the happiness of heaven.Some Eastern Catholics do not use the word purgatory, but believe there is a "final purification" for souls destined for heaven, and that prayers can help the dead who are in that state of "final purification".
The Eastern Orthodox church believes in an intermediate state after death, but also does not use the word purgatory. They believe that this intermediate state is a good place of light and rest for the righteous, and not a pleasant place for the wicked.
Judaism believes there is a place of purification, and some believe sinners spend up to a year there before their release.
C.S. Lewis, the protestant writer who wrote Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, said:
Of course I pray for the dead. At our age the majority of those we love best are dead. What sort of intercourse with God could I have if what I love best were unmentionable to Him? I believe in purgatory. Our souls demand purgatory, don't they? My favourite image on this matter comes from the dentist's chair. I hope that when the tooth of life is drawn, a voice will say, 'Rinse your mouth out with this.' This will be purgatory. (Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, 107-109)Moody institute (an evangelical Bible university) has been quoted as saying: "...not all the dwelling places in heaven will be the same size.. it will depend on how well each person lives out their faith..."
A quote from The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren:
One day you will stand before God, and he will do an audit of your life, a final exam, before you enter eternity... he will ask us two crucial questions ...First, 'What did you do with my Son, Jesus Christ?' ...Second, 'What did you do with what I gave you' ... the second question will determine what you do in eternity...(The Purpose Driven Life, pg. 34)
At the end of your life on earth you will be evaluated and rewarded according to how well you handled what God entrusted to you. That means everything you do...has eternal consequences...you will receive a promotion and be given greater responsibility in eternity ..." (The Purpose Driven Life, pg. 45)St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15:
For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid; which is Christ Jesus. Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay stubble: Every man’s work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work burn, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.St. Augustine:
Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by ’some both here and hereafter, but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment”Pope Benedict XVI :
Purgatory is not some kind of supra-worldly concentration camp where one is forced to undergo punishments in a more or less arbitrary fashion. Rather it is the inwardly necessary process of transformation in which a person becomes capable of Christ, capable of God [i.e. capable of full unity with Christ and God] and thus capable of unity with the whole communion of saints… Encounter with the Lord is this transformation. It is the fire that burns away our dross and re-forms us to be vessels of eternal joy. [Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1994).]OK, so it looks like most Christ followers (and even Judaisim) believe there is some form of purification that occurs after death. There are likely other points of view that I did not come across yet. I see this as a topic that is great for discussion. I don't believe our differences on this topic are big enough that Christ's body, His Church, should be divided over.